Virginia City could have public health clinic in a year | NevadaAppeal.com

Virginia City could have public health clinic in a year

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

VIRGINIA CITY – Storey County nurse Cherie Alexander looks forward to the day when she won’t have to give children their immunization shots from the back of her sports utility vehicle.

According to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPAA, Alexander must provide a private place to administer care to patients. And for this nurse without a clinic, that has often meant administering vaccines in the schools, homes or her car. She said that often worked for Virginia City, but now she is required to have a private setting.

“The days of frontier nursing and that whole romantic idea is about over, thanks to the feds,” she said.

Alexander told Storey County commissioners on Monday that she often works in substandard conditions, but in about a year that will be a thing of the past. The Nevada State Health Division and the Community Chest, a nonprofit organization in Virginia City, will help finance and house a clinic for Storey County residents.

Alexander, who received her nursing degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, has served as the county’s community health nurse for eight years. Her salary is paid by the Fund for Healthy Nevada grant. She sees about 500 patients a year even without an office.

The state health division has agreed to put a satellite public health clinic in Virginia City, which will be open one day a week. It is not a free clinic. Alexander said charges will be on a sliding fee scale based on federal poverty guidelines.

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“We don’t turn patients away if they are unable to pay,” she said. “Especially for certain things, like immunizations.”

The state will provide all the necessary medical equipment, supplies, vaccines and medications. It will also cover licenses, a part-time nurse practitioner and office supplies.

Community Chest will provide the clinic space in its new building, which Executive Director Shaun Griffin said should be open “God and the pope willing” in about a year. The new 3,400-square-foot building will be located adjacent to the park and senior center near the intersection of Six Mile Canyon Road and D Street.

Alexander asked the commissioners to consider funding a part-time clerical employee, the telephone bill, required liability insurance for public use of the building, janitorial services and biohazardous waste disposal.

“Storey County does not have access to public health that Lyon County, Dayton and Carson City has,” she said. “Storey County does not have that opportunity. But now the state has presented itself to help. It probably won’t get better than this.”

Alexander urged the board to act on this as a collective effort with the state and Community Chest.

Commission Chairman Bob Kershaw said a public health clinic is needed, and he hopes the county will have the money when the time comes.

Pat Whitten, director of administration and budget, said the county could easily foot the bill for some of the needed services at the clinic, such as the biohazardous waste disposal and telephone service.

“A lot of these things you’re asking for are reasonably in reach,” Whitten said.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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